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New Coffees January-February 2020

Wednesday 29th January 2020

New Coffees January-February 2020

by Tom Wilkinson

1. YEMEN - Fares Mohammed Qhadi, Al Ethar, Anss, Damar

Natural process / Typica and Odaini Arabica/ 2000m

Fares began farming in 1998 but his coffee journey started even earlier. As a young man he studied coffee production under the guidance of his father and he now runs four farms totalling 13,200 sq ft near Al Ethar village in the district of Anss in the central highlands of Yemen. The second of two genuine single-producer lots from micro-mill and exporter Sabcomeed who pride themselves on showcasing exceptional coffees from this wild and historically significant growing region.

The aroma of this coffee is heady, sweet and enticing, with notes of sweet dark chocolate, cinnamon spice and dried fruit. Brewed, it is syrupy-sweet and heavy with spice, chocolate cake and cherry fruit. Overall I was reminded of black forest gateau washed down with mulled wine, and if that doesn't sound appealing then I don't know what does. This is a big, bold and complex coffee that we've pushed on a little in the roast to emphasise the sweeter, deeper, chocolate and stone fruit character. It makes for a stunning cup in all brewing methods and, like our previous lot from Mohammed Mosleh Ghaleb, it's one worth pushing the boat out for.

Tasting notes - Black Forest Gateaux, mulled wine, syrupy, complex

Suitable for - All brewing methods

2. BRAZIL - Serra e Leite

Natural process / 100% Yellow Catuai Arabica / 1150m

Sitio Serra e Leite (pictured top) is located in Pocos de Caldos - famous both for exceptional coffee and for being Brazil's only volcanic region. Farmer Luiz Zanetti runs a smaller than average farm for the area and uses traditional methods rather than the more mechanised techniques common to Brazil. We have bought his coffees for a number of years and they are unfailingly drinkable and delicious, picking up multiple Great Taste awards along the way.

The dry fragrance of this particular lot has notes of toasted cashew and vanilla whilst the brewed aroma layers this with an appealing hit of dried figs. This a classic Brazil Natural so there is no boozy-funk here - just clean fruit flavours imparted by careful drying. In the cup expect milk chocolate and nuts with a gentle white grape acidity and fig and raisin sweetness. The body is soft, full and creamy as you might expect from a low-altitude coffee and this is present across all brewing methods. I'm not always a fan of Brazil as an origin for single estate espresso but this coffee proves an exception. It's plump, sweet and has bags of nutty origin character with additional and perhaps surprising complexity. In milk I'm reminded of Nutella and fig-rolls by this comforting and wholly enjoyable coffee. 

Tasting Notes - Milk chocolate, dried fig, cashew and white grape

Suitable for - All brewing methods

3. ColSitio Lite located in the famous coffee growing region of Poços de Caldas,renowned for the high quality if its  vsoil.Luiz  Zanetti works  the  relatively small  farm  (for  this  area)  using  traditional  methods  rather  than employing  the  mechanised  methods  more  common  across  the  region.  Luiz  is  more  than  a  coffee  farmer;  he  is  the funniest gentleman growing coffee and looking for quality in his region, and anyone who meets him won’t be able to help being charmed by his personality and commitment to growing high quality coffee.Poços  de  Caldas  city,  in  the  South  of  Minas  Gerais  State  (and  only  3  hours  away  from  São  Paulo),  one  of  the  only volcanic soil regions inBrazil and means, literally,'hot springs'. It is, indeed, a place of many sulphurwater springs, but it is also widely recognized forits altitude and micro climate,which isgreat for coffee growing.Mr. Zanetti was raised on a coffee farm and his entire life has been embedded in coffee production. Luiz is one of the most focused producers ofthisSerra do Selado micro-region and is making great headway in seeking high quality lots.ombia - Jairo Humberto Lopez, Finca Villa Norena 

Washed Process / Caturra, Typica and Yellow Bourbon Arabicas / 1750m

A unique and exclusive micro-lot produced by Jairo Humberto Lopez on his 16 hectare Finca Villa Norena coffee farm in the Tolima region - one of our favourite sources of Colombian coffee. Located near to the Nevado del Tolema volcano in Ibaque, the towering peak is a direct influence on the diverse micro-climates on the farm and combined with favourable altitude these help to shape the complex  flavours of this coffee.

This coffee represents the latest offering in our ongoing Colombian micro-lot series. Benefitting jointly from high-altitude and careful washing and preparation it is bright, clean and incredibly fragrant. On the nose I found notes of buttery ginger biscuits and sweet jammy fruits that promised a tasty coffee to come. Blackcurrant fruit compote and nectarine, delicate notes of orange flower water and rich shortbread combine in this superbly balanced and appealing coffee. In trials we enjoyed brewing  across a wide variety of methods; filter brews are sugar-sweet and espressos were bright yet balanced. Despite high acidity, this coffee works well with shorter milk drinks where the jammy dark fruit notes and rich biscuit tones pair nicely with the creamy sweetness of the milk.

Tasting notes - Juicy blackcurrant, nectarine and butter shortbread

Suitable for - All brewing methods

4. Ecuador - Finca la Colina

Washed process / Typica and Sidra Arabicas / 1370 m

For farmer Guillermo Lomas Lopez - as of course it is at Dark Woods - every day starts and ends with coffee. This daily passion led to a risky decision to begin coffee production in 2014, despite having no experience in the field. His first proper harvest (540 kg of dry parchment) went incredibly well and right from the beginning he was thrilled to know that he was producing specialty coffee. Set-backs followed with disease and crop damage but with help from an agronomist he gained the technical expertise to overcome the challenge and continue in his journey. 

In style it is in some ways similar to the Colombian described above but requires a narrower choice of brewing methods to best appreciate its charms. It is in filter and other soft brews that I felt this coffee's subtle florals and sparkling pink grapefruit acidity were really able to shine, unimpeded by milk. I feel that though there is too much acidity here to brew balanced espresso, drunk long there is a molasses and marzipan-like sweetness and a hint of elderflower to complement the juicy citrus notes. Overall a bright, fragrant and almost refreshing brew that's perfect for black coffee drinkers.

Tasting notes - Pink grapefruit, elderflower, marzipan and molasses

Suitable for - Non espresso brewing methods 

5. Tanzania Blackburn Estate - Elephant Walk AA (exclusive Dark Woods Micro-lot)

Washed Process / Kent and Nyassa Arabicas / 1760-1950m

The Blackburn Estate is well known in speciality coffee circles, both for the quality of its coffees and for the commitment of its owners to ecologically sensitive farming practises. Run by German ex-pats Michael and Tina Gehrken for over 20 years the farm is unusually rich in bio-diversity and as such has developed a largely self-managing eco-system that virtually negates the need for pesticides. Situated in the shadow of Mount Oldeani, the Estate lies along the southern border of the Ngorongro crater which its-self is a haven for wildlife and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Michael and Tina have opted to retain 80% of their land as a mixture of grassland and natural savannah and the area is home to a range of indigenous species including elephants and a large troop of marauding baboons who must regularly be reminded that the ripe coffee cherries are intended for human consumption!

The coffee is fairly typical of East Africa in that it has a juicy and fruit-forward character alongside its more atypical liquorice notes. Sweet and full-bodied, this high-altitude example has a rich sticky toffee pudding sweetness that balances the vibrant lime acidity and complements the other main note of black tea. Bright, sweet and well-rounded in all brewing methods, with and without milk.

Tasting notes - Lime, black tea, liquorice, sticky toffee pudding

Suitable for - All brewing methods

Sitio located in the famous coffee growing region of Poços de Caldas,renowned for the high quality if its  vsoil.Luiz  works  the  relatively small  farm  (for  this  area)  using  traditional  methods  rather  than employing  the  mechanised  methods  more  common  across  the  region.  Luiz  is  more  than  a  coffee  farmer;  he  is  the funniest gentleman for in rion, and anyone who meets him won’t be able to help being charmed by his and commitment to high quality coffee.Poços  de  Caldas  city,  in  the  South  of  Minas  Gerais  State  (and  only  3  hours  away  from  São  Paulo),  one  of  the  only volcanic soil regions inBrazil and means, literally,'hot springs'. It is, , place of many sulphurwater springs, but it is also widely recognized forits altitude and micro climate,which isgreat for coffee growing.Mr. Zanetti was raised on a coffee farm and his entire life has been embedded in coffee production. Luiz is one of the most focused producers ofthisSerra do Selado micro-region and is making great headway in seeking high quality lots.

Sitio iocth us coffee growing of Poços de Caldas,renowned for the high quality if its  soil

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